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3D illustration x-ray neck painful, medical concept.


This month we look at the painful whiplash injury, most commonly caused through a road traffic accident. If you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident with another vehicle, then the impact of the collision can violently and forcefully throw the head forward and back, depending on the direction of impact, resulting in an overstretching of muscles, tendons and ligaments in the neck and shoulder region. Whiplash is as common in passengers as it is in drivers.


What causes Whiplash?

The velocity of the head being thrown forward and back causes overstretching of soft tissues around the neck and shoulder region, as well as possible compression of vertebrae, resulting in inflammation of joint and soft tissue, making movement very painful.


What symptoms would you expect to experience with Whiplash?


  • Severe neck and shoulder pain
  • Pain felt on movement of the head
  • A restriction of movement in the head due to pain and stiffness
  • Headaches resulting from straining muscles joining the base of the skull
  • Nausea and dizziness
  • Difficulty getting comfortable in bed when lying
  • Pins and needles and/or numbness in the upper limbs
  • Pain in your neck and upper limbs when coughing or sneezing with force


What should you do if you experience Whiplash?

First and foremost, you should contact your doctor, as they may be able to prescribe painkillers or anti-inflammatories, and it will be recorded on your medical records.

Secondly, you should notify your insurance company, as medical treatment such as physiotherapy can be arranged and covered for by your insurance.

As with most acute injuries, it is important to help reduce any further damage caused by bleeding, by applying ice packs to the affected area, and to rest the area within reason, although, I do recommend very gentle mobility exercises and stretches to try and maintain movement, and so as not to stiffen up.

The earlier you can receive treatment for a whiplash, the better in my opinion, therefore if you are unfortunate enough to suffer with whiplash, you should consult a physiotherapist, who will be able to assist and speed up recovery, as well as advise about driving, and prescribe exercises to help you.